By Vatican News
In a statement issued on Thursday, New Zealand’s Bishops say they will “closely review” a new Vatican document, known as a Vademecum, that explains procedures for dealing with accusations of clerical sexual abuse against minors.
“It is a complex document,” said Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington. He said the Bishops “will be looking carefully to see where it fits in with the civil and criminal law of New Zealand.”
The Bishops’ statement notes that “complaints of abuse in the New Zealand Catholic Church are handled under the A Path to Healing, Te Houhanga Rongo protocols, introduced by the bishops in 1993 and updated several times since.”
The Bishops of New Zealand, said Cardinal Dew, “believe that every person has an innate human dignity – [in Maori:] te tapu o te tangata – and therefore all forms of abuse are unacceptable and indefensible.”
He explained that the Bishops will be considering further revisions to the protocols in light of the indications in the Vademecum.
The Vademecum was produced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and includes instructions on procedural steps to be taken when an accusation of clerical abuse of a minor is made. It is primarily designed to assist Bishops and other Church leaders in applying the current legal norms to actual cases.
The Vademecum also offers practical, pastoral suggestions for “welcoming, listening to, and accompanying” victims, while also insisting on the right of the accused to self-defence.